Video games were always meant to be shared. Now, some of those classic experiences from decades past have been remade into more accessible modern titles. Here are a few you can start playing with your friends, locally or globally.
Streets of Rage 4
The first three Streets of Rage games were released on Sega Genesis in the early 1990s. They were just as impactful on the side-scrolling, beat-’em-up genre as 1989’s River City Ransom.
Released over 25 years after the third installment, Streets of Rage 4 comes from a different developer, but it benefits from decades of improvements in overall game design. You can fight alongside, or against, up to four friends locally or online. There’s also an arsenal of deadly new moves to master and classic characters.
The original composers of the beloved electronic dance soundtrack, Yuzo Koshiro and Hotohiro Kawashima, returned for the fourth installment. They’re joined by a host of guest artists to provide a hype soundtrack, as you and your buddies take on the criminals running Wood Oak City.
Gameplay is smooth enough for complex combos or basic button-mashing, and it’s all brought to life in a beautiful, hand-drawn art style.
The best part of the Doom reboot is its new soundtrack, which doesn’t “slap” as much as it tears out your spine and slaps your ancestors with it. Doom (2016) and its sequel, Doom Eternal (2020), offer traditional competitive multiplayer modes. However, the latter will feature a hellishly fun co-op mode called “Invasion” in an upcoming update (TBD). You and your cohort can each control powerful demons and invade another player’s campaign.
The new Doom is a reboot, not a remake. It’s hard to find a platform you can’t run it on, but the latest remake features a lovely local co-op mode for up to four players on Switch, PS4, and Xbox One. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the 1993 release of the original Doom, Bethesda Softworks released a remade Doom for the current generation of consoles.
It’s the same bloody, demon-slaying adventure many will remember, but now you’re not alone in this journey through hell. There’s also a deathmatch mode if you want to hate your friends, instead.
River City Girls
The classic 1989 co-op brawler, River City Ransom for NES puts you in the shoes of Alex and Ryan (or Kunio and Riki in Japan). Their girlfriends have been abducted by a gang leader named Slick. The game became a genre classic, and it’s been ported to countless Nintendo systems.
In 2019, River City Girls revamped all the classic gameplay into a brand-new release in this storied Kunio-kun series. This time, the girls, Kyoko and Misako, have to rescue the boys.
With much deeper RPG elements than the original game, River City Girls lets you upgrade your chicas and their weapons as you and one friend progress through the 16-bit worlds. The soundtrack is just as kickass as the girls and features loads of guest appearances from notable chiptune artists.
Super Mario Maker 2
He’s one of the most popular cultural icons in the world. Just about everyone loves a Mario game. Super Mario Maker 2 combines the aesthetics and playstyle of every side-scrolling Mario game into one grand celebration of pure platforming pleasure.
Not only are there a huge amount of built-in courses with a Story mode, but there’s also an easy-to-use toolkit. Every Mario element imaginable allows you to build the course of your dreams (or nightmares).
The best part is almost everything in Super Mario Maker 2 is co-op, including the building experience. You and your friends can access all the multiplayer content as long as everyone has a copy of the game on their Switch and a Nintendo Online subscription.
You can still locally play any of the courses you or others have created without a subscription, as long as you have more than one Joy-Con.
Super Mario Maker 2 ($59.99) is available for Nintendo Switch.
Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition
A classic BioWare RPG based on the eponymous Dungeons & Dragons setting, Neverwinter Nights was originally released on PC in 2002 to widespread critical acclaim. Countless hours of additional content has been released over the years, and all of it is co-op. Finally, all the expansion mods have been gathered into one modern package with graphical improvements for all major gaming platforms.
In 2017, a studio founded by former members of the BioWare staff released Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition for Windows, Mac, Linux, and, eventually, Android. Because the original title was built for PC, the console ports of this enhanced edition contain a huge number of quality-of-life improvements. As a result, the game cost a bit more. The Android version has fewer features, so it costs a bit less.
You can read more about the differences between platforms on the developer’s official FAQ page. The game is cross-platform for Xbox One, Windows, Linux, and Mac (mobile will be added in the future).
Enjoy the vibrant fantasy realm with your fellow adventurers via simplified multiplayer options and persistent online worlds.
Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition ($49.99) is available for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. It’s also available for Windows, Mac, or Linux systems through Steam or GOG ($19.99), or on Android ($9.99).
Bonus: Multiplayer Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Books
If you’re looking for a more low-tech co-op experience, there’s always the wonderfully geeky world of multiplayer choose-your-own-adventure (CYOA) books. You and a friend can each choose a role as one of two main characters. You then read a grand adventure that allows you to make key decisions for a different story every time.
There’s nothing quite like bonding over a good story or a tough challenge. No matter which type of game you choose or which platform you play on, there’s likely a way to play it with your friends.